Black Friday is just days away, but many in the state aren’t in the holiday shopping mood.
However, not all residents have plans to save as they find different ways to respond to rising costs.
A poll by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University found that two-thirds of New Jersey residents believe inflation will affect their vacation spending in the coming weeks.
39% of respondents said inflation would affect their spending “a lot” and 27% “somewhat”.
Those fears of inflation didn’t necessarily translate into plans to cut the cost of seasonal shopping. About half of respondents said they plan to spend the same amount on the holiday as they did last year, while 13% said they plan to spend more than last year.
About a third stated that they wanted to spend less on the holidays than in the previous year.
People keep up their holiday spending by adjusting their other spending habits. About half of those surveyed said they were reducing spending on other essential goods and services in order to be able to afford vacation spending. The other half said they didn’t need to make such cuts.
The holiday results come as some New Jersey residents have different feelings about their own economic conditions. Forty-two percent of respondents said their financial situation had deteriorated compared to the previous year, while a similar proportion, 41%, said their financial situation had remained the same. 15 percent said their finances had improved.
Between October 26 and November 15, 570 New Jersey adults were interviewed by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy in Stockton for the survey. The survey has a margin of error of 4.1% with higher margins of error for subsets.
Hughes Center director John Froonjian said people are determined to find other ways to respond to inflation without dampening their holiday experience.
“Inflation has gripped consumers with a grin-like obstinacy,” Froonjian said in a press release about the survey. “It makes Christmas shopping more difficult, but people will spend less on their daily expenses to keep the spirit of giving.”
A large majority of New Jersey residents have plans to shop for the holidays, with just 11% saying they don’t expect to shop. 53% of those planning to make a purchase said they would do so online through retailers’ websites or apps, reflecting a movement towards online shopping. 30 percent plan to go to stationary retailers for their purchases.
There have been some bad experiences with supply chain disruptions that have shaped much of the consumer experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alyssa Maurice, research associate at the Hughes Center, said a fifth of respondents reported that the gifts they wanted were out of stock and a third reported delays in delivery.
Those aged 30 to 49, the age group most likely to raise children, were the most likely to say they face economic challenges. About three-quarters of the group said they expected inflation to affect their holiday shopping, with 45% saying they would be “strongly impacted” by higher prices. 60 percent said they expect to reduce spending in other, everyday areas in preparation for the holiday season.
Among the holiday traditions affected by inflation was travel. 42% of respondents said cost influenced their decision to travel, with 14% saying they had to change or cancel their travel plans altogether. Overall, 68% of New Jersey residents do not plan to travel for vacation and 27% do.
Decisions on how to spend the holidays and respond to high prices are being made as inflation remains stubbornly high but is moving lower. Annual inflation in October was 7.7%, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics released on Nov. 10. Although still well above the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%, the October rate was the lowest year-on-year inflation since January.
As people continue to make their holiday plans ahead of Friday’s high gear, New Jersey residents say they’re starting early. A fifth of those who say they shop started in October or earlier, while 30% wait until Thanksgiving or early December. Six percent said they would wait until the end of December.
Contact Chris Doyle